An interview with the Diversity Development Project’s founder Teresa Hanul Seo
By CJ Sommerfeld, Staff Writer
Hanul Seo and her troupe of creatives approached racial reckoning through two unique mediums: photo and video.
Teresa Hanul Seo—who is of mixed African-Koren descent, is fighting against the discriminatory modern social zeitgeist via her Diversity Development Project. By highlighting the beauty in racial diversity through photos and video, Hanul Seo proposes a society where racial solidarity exists. “I hope that this project becomes a clear example of the beauty behind diversity. Through the pictures and videos that were created, I hope the efforts of these various individuals putting aside their differences and accepting each other for who they truly are brings light into [the] possible product[s] that embracing multiculturalism enables.” Hanul Seo tells the Other Press about her Diversity Development Project.
A ton of light was rightfully shed on racial disparities via anti-racist movements during the last two years. The hateful acts which had been occurring among many blind eyes are being confronted like never before. Through protests, demonstrations, and other means, the systemic inequalities experienced by the BIPOC communities are being broadcasted, demanding acknowledgement and change. Hanul Seo and her troupe of creatives approached this racial reckoning through a unique medium: photo and video. “The BLM, as well as the Stop Asian Hate movement, were definitely the primary motivators in terms of moments for this project. I personally found that both these movements’ advocate for the rights of members within my family, as well as myself which is something that is very important to me.”
The project’s vision and their collective efforts culminated in the video, ’LOVE EMERGES’ which can be viewed on Youtube as well as on their website. In it, a narrator sketches the video’s intention of unity in diversity, saying:
“Diversity is creativity. It is passion, it is individuality, it expresses our uniqueness, and it is an accurate representation of the world. It is being able to come together to appreciate each other’s differences, but most importantly I believe that it’s through diversity that love emerges.”
And while the project’s creations were a success, it did not appear this would be the case early on. “If I’m being completely transparent, I had a lot of doubts in regards to whether or not this project would even be probable to coordinate. I think the most pivotal phenomenon would be watching the continuous violent attacks on minorities, and how they were being overlooked as ‘crime’.” These violent attacks incentivized Hanul Seo to go forth with the project. In doing so she has drawn awareness and conversation around this epidemic of violence by suggesting a way new to combat this brutality; namely, by embracing the unity that comes with diversity.
The video and photoshoot coming together was in itself an example of unity in diversity with different ethnicities collaborating to create something beautiful. The creatives who were involved in the project—the videographers, photographers, stylists, web designers and models, had only just connected to transform this diversity development idea, into a tangible project. “Not a lot of people knew each other. I got in contact with everyone mostly via Instagram. It was so amazing to see people of such various [sic] backgrounds, not only in race but in age, career, gender, educational backgrounds, etc. By the end of the shoot, we were able to have so much fun and call each other friends.”
Using the mediums of videography and photography allowed the diverse ethnicities of the creatives who were involved with the project to be at its forefront. “We used photography as the primary mode of display because there were not many photos like the ones we created. Upon my research to find inspiration for the vision I was trying to create, it was really hard to find ethnically diverse cultured people in the same shot. This really surprised me. It is something we preach so much about every day and there was little to no work done to expose this phenomenon.”
Given that Hanul Seos preferred creative mediums have proved themselves impactful during this leg of the project, should Vancouverites keep their eyes peeled for more video and photoshoots in the near future?
“Yes! I am not sure if I will continue with the mode of photography as the main way to express the project as I am trying to be more versatile with my way of expression, but I will definitely conduct something in the near future. Unfortunately, as of right now, I am occupied with finishing my degree, but next year I will most likely put together something like this, so please stay tuned!”
Until then, the first leg of the project’s works have sufficed in invoking conversation; what exactly does Hanul Seo hope to come from the Diversity Development Project?
“The conversations that I hope come out of the product of this project is that of accepting differences and working towards resolution of existent systems of oppression. I believe that we as a society often focus too much on the phenomenon of differences, rather than accepting its existence and shifting the attention [to] how we could solve issues [that] are prominent in the minority community. Moreover, I hope everyone is able to find happiness through these creations. Unfortunately, it is not too often that we get to witness projects like this within the Vancouver community, therefore I hope that we are able to shed a light [on] how much fun diversity can be!”
A vital component of art is the thoughts and conversations which it sparks. Hanul Seo and the Diversity Development Project have offered a utopic visual of unity in diversity. Not only does this vision approach anti-racist movements in a refreshing light, the awareness which it has brought, is moving society one step closer to that of racial solidarity.